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29 science-backed tips for better sleep.

We designed this guide for parents who want to make better sleep habits, and for parents who can’t fall asleep because of stress or other issues. It has two parts:


  • Lifestyle Habits for a Good Night of Sleep
  • Sleep Aids and Hacks

Studies show that many parents are chronically sleep deprived. Sleep disorders are becoming more prevalent. It’s worse for new moms, many of whom are “dangerously exhausted” for months.

Lack of sleep puts an ultimate burden on people’s health, happiness, creativity, and productivity.

Myriad studies show that sleep deprivation puts a terrible burden on people’s health, happiness, creativity, and productivity.

Getting better sleep is one of the best things a person can do to improve their quality of life.

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The suggestions below are well-documented and supported by science. Still, you should check with your doctor before taking melatonin, magnesium or any other over-the-counter supplements. Many medications cause sleeplessness, so talk to your doctor about that too.

When to Seek Professional Help

You should see a doctor or therapist if you’re experiencing the “rule of threes”: sleeplessness that happens three times a week, keeps you awake for at least 30 minutes, and continues for at least 30 days. Read about the effectiveness of sleep therapy for serious insomnia here.

“8 hours” of sleep is a guideline, not a rule.

Even our hunter-gatherer ancestors probably didn’t sleep for eight hours straight.  Also, occasional trouble with sleep is normal. Every person truly has a unique system with its own biological clock and requirements for sleep.

Be Your Own Little Sleep Study

To improve your sleep long-term, you have to become your own little sleep study. Document the process and results of trying new sleep routines. For many people, the easiest way to do this is on their phone. (Just don’t spend too long staring at it in bed, as you’ll note below.)

Remember, Quality of Sleep > Hours of Sleep

A study in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research showed that quality of sleep is farm more important than quantity of sleep when it comes to waking up refreshed.

Lifestyle Habits for a Good Night of Sleep

Get Enough Bright Outdoor Light

Multiple studies have shown that exposure to sunlight during the day helps people sleep better at night. For example, this study found that “Office workers with more light exposure at the workplace tended to have longer sleep duration and better sleep quality.”

That’s because high-intensity light (like the light from the sun) helps our bodies set and regulate a healthy circadian rhythm.

Too little bright light exposure during the day and then too much artificial light exposure throw our bodies out of sync, making it harder to experience healthy sleep.

Get Some Exercise

Multiple studies show that even moderate exercise like walking helps people fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

 Don’t Bring Your Phone to Bed

This is a tough one because many of us read on our phones in bed to help us fall asleep. However, there’s ample evidence that looking at a digital screen right before bed (or in bed) disrupts sleep. This is a growing problem with a significant impact.

Update Your Caffeine Strategy 

Simply put, if you have trouble sleeping, you shouldn’t drink anything with caffeine within 6 hours of sleep. A broader recommendation is to skip caffeine entirely after 2:00 PM.

Dependent on a person’s gender and biology, the half-life of caffeine in the body is roughly 5-10 hours. But if you drink a cup of coffee at 4:30 PM, its caffeine is still with you at 10:30 PM.

The study “Caffeine Effects on Sleep Taken 0, 3, or 6 Hours before Going to Bed” found that:

“The magnitude of reduction in total sleep time suggests that caffeine taken 6 hours before bedtime has important disruptive effects on sleep and provides empirical support for sleep hygiene recommendations to refrain from substantial caffeine use for a minimum of 6 hours prior to bedtime.”

More studies on caffeine and sleep. 

Caffeine can also contribute to the sleep disorder known as Restless Leg Syndrome, which is often experienced by pregnant women. In those cases, cutting caffeine entirely is recommended.

Follow Simple Eating Strategies for Better Sleep

Sleeping on a full stomach is terrible for sleep quality. It’s also terrible for your digestive system. After a meal, the stomach requires three to four hours to empty.

However, in some cases, a (small) late-night snack can help you sleep. Via Lifehacker,  The Sleep Medicine Center at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center explains:

“A bedtime snack can help stabilize your blood sugar levels, particular if you eat dinner early or have a very active day. That’s important because low blood sugar can keep you up at night, as well as make it difficult to wake up feeling energized the next morning. Your body needs energy, even for sleep.”

Look for simple foods that are higher in protein and fat, and avoid sugar and spicy, greasy foods that contribute to stomach acid. Skip chocolate too, since that has sugar and caffeine.

Blood levels of melatonin significantly increase after eating a banana, pineapple and orange. My grandmother told me that a couple of saltines with peanut butter would help anyone sleep, and that’s still what works for me.

Suggestions from “The Best and Worst Foods for Sleep” on Greatist include:

  • Low-fat milk and whole grain cereal
  • Peanut butter on whole wheat bread
  • Yogurt with half a banana and one tablespoon of chopped walnuts
  • Two cups plain popcorn with a drizzle of olive oil

Does eating a small snack before bed make you fat? Surprisingly the jury is out on this one. In fact, it might even help people lose weight over time.

Another tip about eating and sleep: move around a bit after you eat, so your food can start to move out of your stomach.

Reduce the Booze

Having a nightcap before bed may make you feel sleepy, but it fragments your sleep. (Alcoholics don’t have many dreams for this reason.)

Simply put, to sleep better, don’t drink alcohol.

Turn Down the Heat

Sleeping in a cool room is one of the best ways to give your body a hint that it’s time to go to bed. Indeed, being too warm is what keeps many people from falling asleep.

In this Lifehacker article, Dr. Rebecca Robbins says that 65 degrees is the optimal sleeping temperature. She also says that sleeping in a too-warm room can induce nightmares.

Can’t turn the temperature down? Stick a foot out from under the covers, as shown in this video from New York Magazine.

 Be Careful With Naps

15-25 minutes (a.k.a. catnap): Because you don’t fall into a deep sleep in this amount of time, it’s easier to hit the ground running after waking up. This short bout of sleep has been proven to help with alertness and concentration, mood elevation, and sharpening motor skills.

A study on pilots found that a 25-minute in-flight nap (while the plane is manned by a copilot of course) enhanced performance by 34 percent and overall alertness by 54 percent.

(Master the Coffee Nap)

Sleep In As Dark A Room As Possible

The presence of light (natural or artificial) in our nighttime sleeping area can have a huge influence on our ability to sleep. That’s because our bodies and brains tune into light levels to manage chemicals in our blood that regulate our sleep cycles. Exposure to room light before bedtime shortens melatonin duration by about 90 minutes compared to dim light exposure. Exposure to room light during usual hours of sleep suppresses melatonin levels by more than 50%.

Don’t Stress About Waking Up During the Night

You may have heard about second sleep. Human beings seem to be designed to wake up at night, and stay awake for an hour or more. Historian A. Roger Ekirch has documented  references to this pattern through history, up until the advent of artificial light.

If you wake up like this, don’t stress and create more sleeplessness by worrying about it. Slate notes that Clark Strand, the author of Waking Up to the Dark, suggests recognizing the value of “that nighttime interval of wakefulness,” “an hour in the middle of the night where peace was there for the having … a nightly blessing.”

More about Segmented Sleep.

Try to get to bed at the same time every night.

Just as babies and children benefit from a consistent, simple bedtime routine, so do adults. The routine is a cue that helps your mind and body begin to wind down. For many people, a consistent bedtime and time to wake up help them sleep best. The Mayo Clinic recommends this practice even on holidays and weekends.

Sleep Aids and Hacks

TLDR; melatonin, magnesium supplement, light snack, eye mask, ear plugs 

Sleepy Tea

Millions of people swear by valerian, passionflower, and chamomile tea for soothing sleep, or reach for special blends like Yogi Bedtime or Celestial Seasoning’ Sleepytime Tea.

Passionflower appears to be best-documented tea for sleep. Slate reports on a 2011 study that “sleep quality showed a significantly better rating for passionflower compared with placebo.”

However, the warmth of the tea and the process of making it can help people relax. It’s worth trying these teas to see if they help you sleep.

Take a Bath

Taking a warm bath is a great way to unwind before bed for a better nights sleep. Complementary Therapies in Medicine found that soaking in warm water daily for 8 weeks is more effective at easing anxiety than a prescription drug.

Bring a cup of tea to the bath and use lavender scented soap to combine the suggestion above and the suggestion below.

Aromatherapy

Lavander is the best-documented scent to help people get better sleep. Many people sleep with a lavendar pillow for just this reason. 

Here are other oils and scents that can help you sleep.

Put the Spouse on the Couch

If you need sleep, be honest with yourself and your partner. If they’re keeping you up at night from snoring, sweating, or stealing the blankets, it’s better for everyone if you sleep alone to get healthy sleep.

They won’t like it at night, but in the long run they’ll appreciate it.

Wear a Sleep Mask

Sleep masks aren’t just for traveling. They can help block faint light that can keep people from falling asleep without knowing about it. Even Insomnia.net recommends sleep masks.

You don’t need anything fancy. The best-selling, top-rated sleep mask on Amazon.com is just $13.00.

If It’s Safe, Wear Earplugs

Don’t wear earplugs if you’re the only one home with your kids. Some of them do their job too well, and it’s possible you’ll sleep through calls for help and other important noises.

But if you can safely be earplugs, the can help create a cocoon-like experience. Two top-rated brands for sleeping include Hearos Xtreme Protection and Hearos Ultimate Softness Earplugs.

Even Better, Play Max Richter’s “Sleep.”

“Sleep” is easily the most beautiful album made this year . . . He has made something that can comfort grief, battle insomnia and allow the body to journey to strange new places.  –  Record Review 10/15

A work of “high-class chillout music” composed on piano, organ, synthesizers, and electronics that’s meant to help people experience a beautiful night of sleep. Get all the different versions here. Read more about it on NPR here.

Want sleep-friendly headphones? Review this list on Reddit of “the best headphones to sleep in.”

“Sleep” is easily the most beautiful album made this year . . . He has made something that can comfort grief, battle insomnia and allow the body to journey to strange new places.  –  Record Review 10/15

Don’t Count Sheep, Imagine Relaxing Scenes Instead

In this study, scientists at Oxford University found that people fell asleep 20 minutes sooner when they imagined a relaxing scene vs counted sheep.

The researchers suggested that counting sheep is too boring while images are more interesting. More from the NYT.

Practice Deep Breathing

This is the practice of tracking and following breathing to let your body gradually relax. You simply intentionally redirect your attention to your breathing and your body, and you lay in bed.

This is a highly studied, well-documented method for calming mind and body.

Masturbate or Have Sex

I know this might be a bit much for some readers, but masturbation is reported to help people invoke sleep. Others say it stimulates them and keeps them up. Having sex can relax the body. It also causes the body to release of oxytocin that can promote rest.

On the other hand (heh), some people say sex or masturbation stimulates them and keeps them up. You probably know what works for you, so just do or don’t do that.

Try Magnesium Supplements

Magnesium plays a key role with sleep. WebMD notes that even a marginal lack of magnesium can prevent the brain from settling into sleep while the National Institute of Heath also notes that people in the US consistently intake less magnesium than recommended amounts.

WebMD notes that “An easy way to remember foods that are good magnesium sources is to think fiber. Foods that are high in fiber are generally high in magnesium.” Good sources include green leafy vegetables, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, and almonds.

Some people who struggle to sleep benefit from taking a 350 mg oral magnesium supplement daily, or at least 45 minutes before bed.

For example, a study on the “effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly,” researchers found that “dietary magnesium supplementation brought about statistically significant increases in sleep time.”

NIH recommends looking for the mineral in aspartate, citrate, lactate, and chloride forms, which are more bioavailable than magnesium oxide and magnesium sulfate.

Take 200 milligrams of magnesium—lower the dose if it causes diarrhea—and 600 milligrams of calcium each night.

The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends taking a “B-vitamin complex along with magnesium, or a multivitamin containing B vitamins because the level of vitamin B6 in the body determines how much magnesium will be absorbed into the cells.”

Magnesium can interact with many different  medications, and too much of it can cause serious health issues. Check with your doctor before taking any supplement.

Try Melatonin

A recent Chinese study in hospitals found that patients slept best after taking a melatonin tablet and wearing an eye mask and earplugs. They also found melatonin was the most effective part of helping people sleep.

Melatonin’s  main job in the body is to regulate night and day cycles or sleep-wake cycles. Darkness causes the body to produce more melatonin, which signals the body to prepare for sleep. Light decreases melatonin  production and signals the body to prepare for being awake. Some people who have trouble sleeping have low levels of melatonin. It is thought that adding melatonin from supplements might help them sleep.

Melatonin is the only medication Canada recognizes for children: “Of the several medications studied in the treatment of insomnia in children, only melatonin is considered safe and effective for short-term use” Page on nih.gov

As such, it has minimal side effects, but no compound that can affect the brain is without risks. According to WebMD:

“Melatonin has been used safely for up to 2 years in some people. However, it can cause some side effects including a headache, short-term feelings of depression, daytime sleepiness, dizziness, stomach cramps, and irritability. Do not drive or use machinery for four to five hours after taking melatonin.” 

Individuals with medical conditions should consult their doctors before taking melatonin, and there is a concern that long-term use of melatonin in children might alter normal development.

Although some experts recommend taking higher doses, studies show that lower doses are more effective. Plus, there’s concern that too-high doses could cause toxicity as well as raise the risk of depression or infertility. Typically take 0.3 to 0.5 milligrams before bed.

Lose Weight

I know – vastly easier said than done. But in the long run, losing weight will markedly help anyone sleep. Excess weight is one of the main causes of sleep apnea.

For Severe, Prolonged Difficulty Sleeping, Try Therapy

After completing therapy, on average, patients fell asleep almost 20 minutes faster and were awake in the middle of the night almost half an hour less, the study found. And the time they spent sleeping soundly increased by nearly 10 percent.

A recent analysis published in Annals of Internal Medicine concludes that in over 20 studies of cognitive behavioral therapy in adults, therapy is consistently effective at treating insomnia.

That’s all to say…

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When it comes to holiday gifts, we know what you really want, mama. A full night's sleep. Privacy in the bathroom. The opportunity to eat your dinner while it's still hot. Time to wash—and dry!—your hair. A complete wardrobe refresh.


While we can't help with everything on your list (we're still trying to figure out how to get some extra zzz's ourselves), here are 14 gift ideas that'll make you look, if not feel, like a whole new woman. Even when you're sleep deprived.

Gap Cable-Knit Turtleneck Sweater

When winter hits, one of our go-to outfits will be this tunic-length sweater and a pair of leggings. Warm and everyday-friendly, we can get behind that.

$69.95

Gap Cigarette Jeans

These high-waisted straight-leg jeans have secret smoothing panels to hide any lumps and bumps (because really, we've all got 'em).

$79.95

Tiny Tags Gold Skinny Bar Necklace

Whether engraved with a child's name or date of birth, this personalized necklace will become your go-to piece of everyday jewelry.

$135.00

Gap Brushed Pointelle Crew

This wear-with-anything soft pink sweater with delicate eyelet details can be dressed up for work or dressed down for weekend time with the family. Versatility for the win!

$79.95

Gap Flannel Pajama Set

For mamas who sleep warm, this PJ set offers the best of both worlds: cozy flannel and comfy shorts. Plus, it comes with a coordinating eye mask for a blissed-out slumber.

$69.95

Spafinder Gift Card

You can't give the gift of relaxation, per say, but you can give a gift certificate for a massage or spa service, and that's close enough!

$50.00

Gap Stripe Long Sleeve Crewneck

This featherweight long-sleeve tee is the perfect layering piece under hoodies, cardigans, and blazers.

$29.95

Gap Chenille Smartphone Gloves

Gone are the days of removing toasty gloves before accessing our touchscreen devices—thank goodness!

$9.95

Ember Temperature Control Smart Mug

Make multiple trips to the microwave a thing of the past with a app-controlled smart mug that'll keep your coffee or tea at the exact temperature you prefer for up to an hour.

$99.95

Gap Flannel Shirt

Our new favorite flannel boasts an easy-to-wear drapey fit and a flattering curved shirttail hem.

$59.95

Gap Sherpa-Lined Denim Jacket

Stay warm while looking cool in this iconic jean jacket, featuring teddy bear-soft fleece lining and a trendy oversized fit.

$98.00

Gap Crazy Stripe Scarf

Practical and stylish, this cozy scarf adds a pop of color—well, colors—to any winter ensemble.

$39.95

Nixplay Seed Frame

This digital picture frame is perfect for mamas who stay up late scrolling through their phone's photo album to glimpse their kiddos being adorable. By sending them to this smart frame to view throughout the day, you can get a few extra minutes of sleep at night!

$165.00

Gap Crewneck Sweater

Busy mamas will appreciate that this supersoft, super versatile Merino wool sweater is machine washable.

$59.95

This article was sponsored by GAP. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and Mamas.

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Can you think of a more irresistibly photogenic creature than your dimpled baby triumphantly hoisting a plump fist full of birthday cake? Or any subject more closeup-ready than your unsteady toddler taking their first steps?

So with a camera always just a few swipes away, these are the kind of moments many of us capture without a thought. And often, without a second thought, we take the extra minute to share these memories online. After all, what parent could resist?

This instinct is a normal one—and one that existed well before the dawn of the internet. "Remember Grandma's brag books? Parents and grandparents always feel the need to share," says Pamela B. Rutledge, PhD, Director at Media Psychology Research Center.

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Sharing gives us a way of appreciating or savoring the experience with the bonus of getting social validation, Rutledge says. "Sharing can also be a way of normalizing one's experience as a parent — feeling like you are doing things the right way; reaffirming your identity as a parent."

However, even though we're not alone in our desire to race to the virtual rooftops and shout the most adorable aspects of our kids' lives (one survey found that 30% of parents post a photo or video of their child at least once a day), this urge directly conflicts with the cautionary tales we hear about the internet's darkest corners. Tougher still can be pinpointing which risks are real and which are internet lore (remember the Momo challenge hoax?).

As parents, the world, and particularly the internet, can feel like a scary place. But we can't write the web off as wholly sinister — nor can we pretend like it's a panacea. Because right now, we simply don't know.

Millennial parents are essentially pioneers in this sweeping gray area that is parenting online. There is no roadmap. The best we can do is evaluate the information we do have and use it to make choices that align with our comfort level.

"It's complex. We're the first generation of parents to raise kids online, and our kids are the first generation to grow up under the watchful eyes of their parents' newsfeed," says Stacey Steinberg, a law professor at the University of Florida and author of the upcoming book Growing Up Shared. "So it's this really unique generation that we're trying to navigate, and there's not a lot of data to drive our decision-making."

We've been able to document our own lives online for the past 15 years or so. For many parents today, that's only about half our lives or less. But our children's social media presence may have pre-dated their births.

One study by internet security firm AVG found that 92 percent of children in the U.S. have an online presence before the age of two, and nearly a quarter of kids made their online debut before they entered the world thanks to ultrasound photos posted by their parents. And it's important to note that this research came out in 2010. For context, since then, Instagram has grown by an estimated million users to a billion. That's potentially a lot more sonogram photos.

What's the harm in sharing?

Because the internet is forever shape-shifting and we have yet to see the long-term effects of our sharing right now, the line between sharing and oversharing is a moving target. Navigating this chasm starts with understanding the tangible risks involved with sharing online, so let's break those down. The risks tend to fall into two categories:

1. Virtual theft

When you share something about your child online, you don't have full control over who has access to that information or how they'll use it. Anything you share online has the potential to be viewed by anyone anywhere in the world, warns Rebecca Herold, an information security, privacy, and compliance consultant and CEO at The Privacy Professor. "As long as one other person online has access to your child's photo or video, you are trusting that they are not going to take that photo and share it in ways that you would not want them to," she says.

Probably the least threatening manifestation of this is that companies are constantly collecting information on all of us — including our children — so they can better target us with advertisements. At the most nefarious end of the spectrum, sometimes innocent photos of children are stolen to be used for illicit purposes.

Then, of course, there's identity theft, which is becoming a real threat thanks to the sheer volume of information available online. In 2018, the bank Barclay's forecasted that parents sharing personal information about their children online will account for two-thirds of identity fraud by 2030.

"Babies are common targets because their identities can be criminally used for many years before your child reaches an age where they will be applying for a loan, credit card, etc, and subsequently discover they've been an identity theft victim," Herold says.

According to Barclay's the pieces of information that make your child most vulnerable to identity fraud are: full name, home address, and birthdate. Chances are, you aren't straight up Tweeting your social security number, but you may be revealing more than you think with an online birth announcement that details your child's full name and birthdate or a geotagged photo that gives away your home address.

2. Your child's digital legacy

Another important consideration for parents is their child's digital footprint, Steinberg says. Parents may be posting for years, shaping their child's digital reputation, before their child fully grasps the concept of online sharing and how to construct their own identities publicly.

When kids are old enough, they may feel exposed since these images were posted without consent and want to take back control of their images, Rutledge says. "One difficult issue is the boundary between parent and child. Parents share what their kids do as a reflection of their role as a parent. In many cases, this is about the parent more than the child," she explains. "At the same time, these are the child's images that are being posted and shared." She adds that by posting images, not only do parents make them searchable, but they also might unintentionally giving another party permission to reuse them.

Share smarter

"While there are concerns, I'm in no way suggesting parents stop sharing altogether," Steinberg says. "I'm suggesting they make well-informed choices with regards to what they share."

Take a look at the privacy policies on the social media platforms you use. "Review the site's terms and conditions, sometimes hidden within the site's privacy notice/policy, to understand the specific types of data that is collected when you post," Herold says.

While you're at it, check the settings on your devices. "Find out how much information is being saved on that device and how much is being shared," says Denise Lisi DeRosa, an online safety expert and founder of Cyber Sensible. "You want to make sure you're not always sharing your exact location, which could be your home address."

And there are certain things experts advise not posting at all:

  • Pictures of your child in any state of undress. Images like this could make your child a target for predators. "Maybe your child is wrapped in a towel or the towel is half off. That's a cute photo to share with Grandma — not with Facebook," DeRosa says.
  • Identifying details. This includes location information that might give away where you live or where your child attends school.
  • Something that may be embarrassing later. This one is totally subjective, but consider how your child might feel in the future. "Even though it's cute now, it might not be cute in five or 10 years when their friends see it," DeRosa says. Aired grievances may also not age well. Think about whether or not this is something you'd share publicly offline. "I wouldn't walk into a movie theater and stand up and shout, 'I'm trying to potty train, does anybody have suggestions?'"

Give your kids a say in sharing

As soon as your children are old enough — around 5 or 6 — engage them in conversations about what you share, and as they get older, give them veto power over what information is shared, Steinberg says.

Having a conversation is always a good idea, but it has to be age-appropriate, Rutledge adds. "A 4-year-old is not going to understand what it means to have images public," she says. "They might understand the intention of putting a picture where Grandma can see it, but they won't understand that, in five years, someone may find a picture and tease them about it. The conversation should continue periodically."

One place to start might be right after you take a photo. As you look at that picture, talk to your child about where it might be going. If you post it and someone leaves a comment, let them read it and give them a chance to respond, Steinberg says. Inviting your child to look at social media with you gives them training wheels before they ride solo with their own accounts. It's an opportunity for you to model courtesy and responsible online behavior.

And as you share some of the consequences of sharing online, you can also share the positives with your children. "It's really important for parents to talk about [the] many benefits of sharing. It helps us connect with family and friends who live far away. It helps us build our communities and online relationships and networks, Steinberg says. "There's a lot of power in our narrative when we share our vulnerabilities. So many good things come from sharing online, and I never want to silence a parent's voice."

Ultimately, you have to weigh the risks and benefits and make the decision that feels right for you and your family, whether that means going analog with your photo-sharing and filling the plastic-coated pages of an old-school brag book or documenting your child's daily life — or falling somewhere in between — is up to you.

"Just as we have regular conversations about how we feed our kids and discipline our kids, we need to have more regular conversations about how we share about our kids," she says. "There are more questions than there are answers, so this isn't about judging, it's about trying to move the conversation forward."

Learn + Play

If you've scrolled through Instagram anytime in the last year, you're probably familiar with the famous Amazon coat. You know the one that doesn't really have a shape, but is essentially the love child of a parka and a puffer—made to help you look effortlessly chic but oh-so-warm in the grueling cold.

It's technically made by Orolay, but the internet went crazy when influencers kept sharing pics in the down ensemble last year because the price point is so good. And the reviews racked up on Amazon—it's even a favorite of Oprah. Editors on our team truly love the coat and swear that it keeps them cozy, even through Northeastern winters.

Well, we've got great news: It comes in a kids version, mama.

Orolay children hooded down coat

kids amazon coat

The Orolay Children Hooded Down Coat is practically the exact same coat, but in a cuter, mini version. Coming in three colors, (black, green and red) it has the same fleece-lined hood that littles will love to wear and a loose style so they can wear as many layers as needed underneath. Plus, it has plenty of zippers to adjust the fit and keep items dry.

Other features we love? It's windproof, water-resistant and machine-washable (just be sure to remove to faux fur before tossing in the wash).

The sizing and shape of it is ideal for kids since they grow out of clothing so quickly. Right now, the sizes range from 6-12 years old but the roomy fit could fit littles of all sizes. It's been marked down (and will likely be on Black Friday, too) so a few sizes are already selling out.

Now the question is...what color should we get?

$129.99

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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While we get our kids ready for bed, my son climbs onto his top bunk. He doesn't sleep there yet but loves the somewhat "off-limits" idea of it. My daughter looks up at her brother and immediately points to him and says, "Up!" My husband gently lifts her onto the bunk and she starts running from one end of the mattress to the other.

My stomach starts doing flip-flops as I envision her falling headfirst onto the floor. "Sweetie, no running. Crawl."

She looks down at us, "Huh?" as she tilts her head to the side, using both hands to brush the hair from her face.

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My son looks down at his dad with a big smile and says, "You come up here, too?" My husband agrees and starts to climb the ladder.

I stand down on the floor, arms crossed, secretly counting the minutes until the kids are asleep and I can get back to my book. But eventually, I give in to their cries for me to "come up here!"

Truthfully, my heart swelled knowing they want me to join them. All too often I choose to sit on the sidelines, letting these moments pass by, worn out by the demands of motherhood and mentally clocking out before they are asleep.

My husband and I sit on either end of the bunk to act as a buffer to the floor. We quietly watch them run back and forth, their eyes and smiles showing they are clearly in delight of this forbidden activity.

"They're only two and four once," my husband says as he reaches out for my hand. I nod my head and smile, my fingers entwining with his across the bed.

Earlier that day, our son asked to see the framed photo on my dresser, one I have seen hundreds of times, but never tire of looking at. It's me, pregnant with him, our first child. I reached out to pick up the frame and lowered it to his eye level. I knelt down in front of him and my voice dropped to a whisper, "That was when I was pregnant with you."

My hand instinctively fell to my now empty womb. "You were in my belly in this picture."

He looked at me with slight confusion, but I also noticed a bit of a sparkle in his eyes, "Me? Where's my sister?"

He grabbed the frame and pointed to his dad, "Was she in Dad's belly?" I smiled and tousled his hair, which has long lost its newborn scent.

"No, you were in my belly before she was. This was before she was born."

Those final weeks of pregnancy felt more like months. My son is 4 years old now and I realize just how fleeting that time was. It's hard to wrap my head around the fact that neither of my babies are actually babies anymore. My pregnancy with him was years ago. I am grateful I have this photo when he was only mine to hold; my body growing his.

It feels like I am so quick to want to move onto the next thing. I wanted my pregnancies to be over so I could meet my babies. I want them to be a little older because I think (hope) it will be a little easier. I rush through bedtime to get a few minutes to myself. Parenthood is a constant push and pull of emotions, and at times it can feel nearly impossible to enjoy the here and now.

Back in the bedroom, the kids stop running and start jumping up and down, their feet tucked in their footie pajamas. I watch our daughter jump up and down, her hair floating into her eyes—her smile from ear to ear. Our son is laughing, loving that we are all on his bed.

Have you ever had a moment where it feels like time has actually stopped? You aren't looking at the clock. You are truly looking at your children and soaking them all in. We will never be able to come back to this moment. This age. This night.

After the kids are tucked into bed, I walk down the hall toward the living room. I glance at the clock, realizing it is almost an hour past their bedtime. But the kids went to bed with smiles on their faces.

As I pick up my book, I think back to the photo of me pregnant with our son, and remember how surprised I was when the doctor announced, "It's a boy!"

At four, he has nearly outgrown his chubby cheeks. I know I'll miss picking him up from preschool, where he always greets me with a "Moooommmm!" as he slams his whole body into my legs. I dread the day when our daughter stops using both her hands to cup my face as she plants a wet kiss on my lips. I know someday I won't be her favorite person in the whole world, and she might not say every day, "Mom, you're my best friend."

Some day when we take the bunk bed down, I imagine I'll look up at the top bunk and remember when they were only two and four.

But for now, when most evenings bedtime feels like a finish line I can't wait to cross, I hope to remember how I felt when I joined them on the bunk bed. How those extra minutes in their world made me feel. I'm reminded that the time from when they were in my belly to jumping on the bunk bed went by in a flash. I want to embrace the here and now—knowing tomorrow they will wake up one day older and one step further from needing me.

Life

The older kids get, the harder it can be to find them holiday gifts that make their eyes sparkle. But fear not. While they may have us bested when it comes to celebrity YouTube star knowledge, you have an advantage: #TeamMotherly. Our editors have combed through the internet looking for THE BEST recommendations for toys and gifts, which ensures you get to hang on to #coolmom status.

Here are the best gifts for the older cool kids in your life.

Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 instant camera

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With the nostalgia of the Instant camera's from our childhoods and the modern updates like a selfie mirror, the FujiFilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera is sure to be a hit with your big kid (that you'll have fun playing with too).

$49.85

Umbra Hangit photo display

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The perfect gift to pair with the camera. Give them a place to (neatly) display all of the photos they take and add instant fun to any space.

$18.03

Love Bubby tee-shirt

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I'm only a little jealous that I got this for my daughter and not myself. The Love Bubby shirts are super high-quality, unique, and I love that they encourage my daughter to stand up for what she believes in.

$28

GoldieBlox scratch art projector

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The STEM pioneers at GoldiBlox have created the ultimate kits for your artistic scientist. Motherly's co-founder and CEO Jill Koziol got to try one out with her kiddos. The verdict? "Super fun, easy, with a great mix of science and crafts with fun." There are lots of kits to choose from, though we are particularly excited about the GoldieBlox Scratch Art Projector.

$24.99

Ravensburger Gravitrax starter set marble run + STEM toy

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Speaking of STEM, this interactive track system that allows your curious and inventive kid to design and build their own race tracks. They'll learn about gravity, magnetism and kinetics, and have a blast doing it.

$59.95

Tea Collection dress

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If your child loves to twirl around or needs a more dressy outfit in their wardrobe, we adore the dresses at Tea Collection. They're high-quality, machine-washable and the brand gives back 10% of profits to The Global Fund for Children—win-win.

$49.50

Amazing Origami

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Amazing Origami: Traditional Japanese Folding Papers and Projects comes with everything your artist needs to get started on the ancient tradition of origami, no matter what their previous experience is. They'll get instructions and project guides, and tons of gorgeous paper so they can start folding immediately.

$16.86

Watercolor United States of America scratch off map

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Are you a road-tripping family? Let your child keep track of all the adventures with this map. Can you get all 50?

$19.99

LEGO Friends Heartlake City Amusement Pier

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The LEGO Friends Heartlake City Amusement Pier is one of 2019's hottest toys, and we can see why. Your child will spend hours constructing its ghost ship, swing carousel, ticket kiosk and snack stall, and then many more playing with the final product.

$129.95

African elephant adoption kit

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Inspire your little change-maker by gifting them an African Elephant Adoption Kit. They'll get a Soft plush animal, formal adoption certificate, full-color photo of the species, fascinating information about the animal, and best of all, the knowledge that they've contributed to a cause they can be proud of.

$55

Monopoly 'Stranger Things' edition

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If Stranger Things has taken over your home, this will be a huge hit (and is another gift that you'll enjoy playing with, too).

$19.99

L.O.L. Surprise! O.M.G. Crystal Star fashion doll

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L.O.L dolls have a new cool big sister. The one is fun, pretty and trending hard, so grab one before they fly off the shelves!

$49.88

Little Free Library kit

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We've been seeing these popping up all over our town, and we could not be more on board. The Little Free Library Kit is a DIY book-sharing movement that allows your child to construct a book-hut, and then share and receive free books from friends and neighbors. This is truly a gift that keeps on giving.

$329

Darice 120-Piece deluxe art set

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The set is huge and has everything you little artist needs to create masterpieces all day long: markers, crayons, color pencils, oil pastels, watercolor paints, and so much more.

$10.85

Lynx faux fur bean bag chair

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As stylish as it is comfortable, you'll love that its cover is machine-washable, and they'll love sitting in it reading for hours.

$268

Rebel gift box

If you haven't yet experienced the Rebel Girls Books, you are both in for a real treat. It shares 200 stories of marvelous women that are sure to leave everyone who reads them inspired and hopeful.

$65

The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid

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Give the gift of adventure, in book form! The atlas transports the reader to 100 of the most surprising, mysterious and weird-but-true places on earth with tons of facts and stunning images.

$13.27

Pick-A-Pom ribbed beanie

Leave it to Anthropologie to make your kid want to wear a winter hat. With interchangeable pom-poms that snap on to the top, your child can design something totally unique (that will keep them warm and toasty).

$38

Blank comic book

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Let their creativity blossom with the Blank Comic Book. It contains 100 plank pages ready to be filled with the hilarious and daring adventures of your child's next comic.

$5.99

JIMU Robot competitive Series: Champbot kit

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Motherly CEO and Co-founder, Jill Koziol, tried this out with her daughter, and loved it! "The directions were interactive and helped her to problem solve. It was a great family activity and she was so proud of what she had built; and she loved operating the robot once it had charged. I love that there are different parts to it so there are wins along the way but also a requirement to keep with it, supporting a growth mindset and building resilience.

"This is fabulous for any budding engineers and especially Lego lovers that are ready to take it to the next level!"

$129.99

Heelys

Anyone who was a kid in the early 2000s just had to have Heelys, and guess what? They're back, mama. The roller skate and shoe in one is such a fun present for any kiddo who loves to zoom around to wherever they're going. But parents will love that they're a super high quality sneaker that will hold up to everything your kids put them through. We like this classic gray style, but they come in all sorts of colorways including these pink hi-tops and these Spiderman kicks.

$65


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